Review #269

I rated this fantasy fairy-tale retelling a 4.4/5 stars. This will hopefully be one I remember details of compared to other novels because the woods are s described in such detail. I started to get frustrated with the repetition of the plot in the 30-60% part of the story. Overall I would highly recommend this dark vibe fantasy based on the setting. the “dark” quality has nothing to do with sex since it’s fade to black. (Note-third person with two points of view from twin sisters)

Here’s my thoughts while reading:

Red is the second born daughter, which means she will be the sacrificial gift to the wolf in the woods. The people hopes that the wolf will view her as acceptable enough to return the kingdom’s gods to them. But Red has a secret if her own. As scared as she is, she somewhat looks forward to her fate in the forest. There’s magic crawling under her skin, threatening her family. Going to the forest may be the only way to keep her sister and loved ones safe.

The beginning ritual was pretty dramatic and entranced me. The bond between these twins is interesting because what I’m reading on paper isn’t exactly what I’m feeling. Maybe over time it’ll feel more believable but so far I don’t think they care enough about each other as it’s intended to be. I already have a strange gut feeling that Neve will betray Red sometime later on. I’m already rooting for Red early on in the story. The author has made me want her to go into the woods and also flee at the same time which is great writing.

“Slowly, she pressed her hands to the gate.” … seriously? What kind of chapter ending is this? An amazing cliffhanger? WTF. I was gonna go to bed and now I have to keep reading. Damn you Hannah Whitten. I’m in love with the dark prose so far.

“I don’t have thorns if that’s what you’re wondering.” … dude, best ever first line of the antihero/villain/possible-later-love-interest?

Once she has arrived at the Black Keep, the story felt more like “Beauty and the Beast” and less like Little Red Riding Hood. Eammon is a great name for the wolf and I’m intrigued to know his story and how she recognized his hands.

So, I’ve never read a book with an interlude before. Apparently there are multiple of them, that take us back to the castle in her sister’s point of view.

The second interlude totally changed how I view Nefe. I fully believe she loves her sister now and it doesn’t feel superficial anymore. But something is still clawing under my skin that Nefe will create a problem later. The rot in the forest reminds me of so many earthy books I’ve read recently including The House of Hollow, This Poison Heart & The Dark Part of the Forest, all of which I’ve adored.

I’m a little annoyed by how many times the word “rot” is used. The dark, creepy vibe doesn’t feel as strong if it’s overdone.

I don’t think they’ve been clean once this whole novel, just torn clothes and bloodied everywhere. Yikes.

The world building is vey in-depth and slowing the pace down a little in the middle. I’d highly recommend this to readers who enjoy the epic world building aspect. But I wish some of those paragraphs could be used to further their relationship instead.

Hhhm is Kiri on their side or not? The politics and religion aspects aren’t really my thing so I hope the interludes decrease so we can stay on Red’s story.

I’m glad Red has saved him once because he has saved her like four times. I’m waiting for something new or different to happen because it’s been the same plot for about 100 pages, continually attacked by the woods. We need a change up soon.

At the halfway mark, I’m rooting for them since they’ve healed each other, worn each other’s scars, given each other gifts, helped balance the magic. But I don’t know what I’m rooting for them to accomplish. Because so far a lot of shit is happening to them and they’re reacting and failing. But neither of them have any type of long term plan to get out of this mess other than dealing with it and suffering through. So it doesn’t feel very hopeful since no options have been brought up to “make it to the other side.” I want them to fall in love and live happily ever after, but how it where. There doesn’t seem to be any possible way out of this scenario since everyone has accepted their fates and no one is looking for further answers.

Their first and second kiss scenes were written so well. And I love how they’re “fated” yet “forbidden love” at the same time somehow within the rules of the magic.

Awe man, fade to black?! Come on.

I understand Eammon’s sentiment in saying “I won’t let anything happen to you.” But dude, why make promises you can’t keep? Obviously we see him as a protective, sacrificial guy who wants to meek her safe, but it’s been annoyingly repetitive that things keep happening to Red when Eammon swears he won’t let it. We can’t trust your word, Wolf. As much as we’re rooting for you, stop saying she will be fine.

Oh and Red has never once listened to his warnings or cautionary demands. She has done the opposite of what Eammon has said every single time. So yes, we want the heroine to take action and make choices but at this point she almost just seems foolish.

So I’m satisfied with the ending, but I’m unsure what the purpose was of the release since like 2 pages later the release was reverted. I can’t say much more than that without giving spoilers. I’m eager to read the sequel, but at a little worried if the repetition of plot will be as frequent as in the first.

The theme of being bound together is similar to my “Linked” trilogy. I should make a blog post of other similar novels. I wonder if “fated mates” would be considered the same because often a vow or link is voluntary but fated mates isn’t. Support my fantasy trilogy by preordering Scorched. Available 3/3/23

Published by CassieSwindon

Fiction author

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